My husband grows camellias. His garden, with approximately 150 named varieties and several hundred hybrid camellias, is part of Georgia’s Camellia Trail.
Several years ago, we were told that in order to be listed in Georgia’s tourism brochures the garden needed a name. We’d never labeled a yard or a house, and we found that it wasn’t an easy task. Not just any old name would do. At last, after weeks of discussion, my husband, inspired by the statuary, shrubs, bushes, vines, trees, and a spectacular variety of flowers among curving beds, chose to call our place Eccentric Garden. In its wild and overgrown state, it is quite different from most gardens. Many have referred to it as a secret garden, an eclectic garden, an eccentric garden, a luscious garden. He went with Eccentric Garden, saying, “We are eccentric and creative. Might as well embrace it.”
And so, we did. And during January and February, my husband’s camellias come alive and add magnificent color to our gardens.
Although camellias have the big-leafed evergreen beauty of rhododendrons and Southern magnolias, a majority explode with jumbo waxy blooms, alluring flowers in shades of red, pink, and white, dazzling colors that bleed together in swirls and juicy pigments.
I will always cherish those times when my husband slips into my office when I’m writing and puts a small vase holding a freshly cut camellia on my desk, those times when I’m busy cooking and he walks in, his hands full of luscious camellias for me, those times when he takes me around the yard to show me his favorite blooms.
Though camellias grow in both the front and back gardens, we’ve opened only the front to visitors. Our dogs claim the rear yard.
Eccentric Garden is open to the public January and February from 10 to 5, giving tourists and others passing through Tifton the opportunity to stop by and enjoy my husband’s collection of camellias. Visitors are welcome to take photos. We’ll stay inside and won’t bother you. Nevermind. Cut that. I’ll stay inside and go about the business of writing and painting, but if my husband sees you he will probably walk outside and chat.
If you want to see the full garden, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will need to make arrangements for our dogs.
My husband is glad to show the garden during the spring months, too. We have quite a collection of flowers and hostas that come to life after winter has passed. You’ll see clematis, daylily, coneflower, poppy, salvia, ornamental grass, Lady Banksia roses, hosta, Japanese maple, ginger lily, ivy, ornamental pepper, hydrangea, Mexican petunia, Flying Dragon, fern, moss, and much more.
Brenda Sutton Rose
Author of DOGWOOD BLUES.